The Massacre of Peterloo, Manchester, 16th August 1819

The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819

'The Story of Peterloo' by F.A. Bruton, Pub. 1919

Page 35

ground of all stones, but that after it was over a cart load of stones and bricks was picked up.

Mr. Tyas, the reporter for "The Times," says emphatically that when the Yeomanry rode into the crowd "not a brickbat was thrown at them, not a pistol was fired - during this period all was quiet and orderly, as if┬Ěthe cavalry had been the friends of the multitude and had marched as such into the midst of them. As soon as Hunt and Johnson had jumped from the waggon, a cry was made by the cavalry: 'Have at their flags!' ln consequence, they immediately dashed, not only at the flags that were in the waggon, but those which were posted among the crowd, cutting most indiscriminately to the right and left in order to get at them. This set the people running in all directions, and it was not until this act had been committed that any brickbats were hurled at the military. From that moment the Manchester Yeomanry lost all command of their temper", One of those who held on to his banner till it was struck from his hand, and his shoulder was divided by one of the Manchester Yeomanry (whom he recognised) was the Middleton journeyman, Thomas Redford. Three years later, in 1822, this man sued members of the Manchester Yeomanry for assault at a famous trial which took place at Lancaster.

After the lapse of a century, perhaps we may, while trying to take an impartial view, agree with what Mr. Hobhouse said on this subject in the House of Commons in May, 1821, in supporting Sir Francis Burdett' s motion for an inquiry: He "defied proof that the people began it. When once they were attacked, what could you expect? Were people in the quiet exercise of one of their most undoubted privileges to be unresistingly bayonetted, sabred, trampled underfoot, without raising a hand, or (if the noble lord would allow) without putting their hands in their pockets for the stones they had brought with them? The Rev. Mr. Stanley, who watched the proceedings from a room above the magistrates, saw no stones or sticks used." The mention of pockets is a reference to a report that some of the crowd wore smocks with large pockets, in which they brought stones to the meeting.

The second question that gave rise to much discussion at the Trials and elsewhere was whether the Riot Act was read before the second body of-troops was directed to charge the crowd. It was emphatically stated at the Trial that the Act was read distinctly twice: once


'The Story of Peterloo' by F.A. Bruton, Pub. 1919
Written for the Centenary, August 16th, 1919'.by F.A. Bruton, M.A.(of the Manchester Grammar School.
Download .pdf copy from the Internet Archive HERE

Transcribed here by Sheila Goodyear 2019

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